T he rhythmic sound of Myanmar’s traditional drums playing the Shwe Oh Si song spreads in the air when the three vessels gradually arrive at the jetty. The people on the deck of the ships are filled with excitement for arriving at their motherland. Those on the jetty including drum players are also ready to welcome the returnees and military officials with Aung Thabyay (Eugenia).
It was just a wonderful scene of the return of more than 1,000 Myanmar citizens from Malaysia by Tatmadaw naval vessels — Mottama, Thanlwin and Sin Phyu Shin on 27 February noon.
State administration Council Chairman Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing once said the Myanmar nationals stranded abroad should return to the country during the COVID-19 pandemic and arrangements will be also made to repatriate those stranded in foreign countries. Therefore, such repatriation was carried out under the instructions of the SAC Chairman is a sign of success. The military vessels brought back a total of 1,086Myanamr nationals from Malaysia to Myanmar. The naval officials also provided security, accommodations and healthcare services for the returnees on the way home and so such doings are the hopes for the other Myanmar people living in foreign countries.
Now, the State Administration Council reaches its first month. The council successfully repatriated the Myanmar nationals stranded in foreign countries despite the various difficulties and made efforts to meet the needs in political, social and economic requirements and to ease the difficulties of people during this one month. Here is the one-month performance of the State Administration Council:-
Acting President U Myint Swe released an order dated 1 February. It stated,
1. On 8 November 2020, the general election of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar was held under the authority of the Union Election Commission (hereinafter referred to as ‘UEC’). The ‘UEC’ had not only failed to properly perform its duties but also neglected to ensure a free, fair and transparent election as there were enormous discrepancies of electoral votes.
2. The sovereignty of the power of a nation MUST be derived from the citizens, but the failure of the free and fair electoral process due to terrible voting errors can contradict the national sovereignty of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the power of the people.
3. Refusal to address the concerns raised by several political parties, ethnic groups, and the Tatmadaw, and subsequently calling for Pyi Thu Hluttaw (Lower House) and Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House), as well as Pyidaungsu Hluttaw as scheduled, are violations of Article 417 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. According to Article 417 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, “the wrongful forcible means” of taking power shall cause the loss of the sovereignty of Myanmar and the unity of the ethnic nationalities in Myanmar. Many people, who were dissatisfied with the performances of the ‘UEC’, organized protests against the performance of the ‘UEC’.
4. As the government and ‘UEC’ both failed to address those problems, it is the Tatmadaw’s undeniable duty to exercise Article 417 of the ‘Supreme Law of the Myanmar’ – the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to declare ‘State of Emergency’ under the Constitution of the Republic of the Union.
5. In order to address the concerned voting lists, the government of Myanmar had to exercise Article 418 (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, which mandates the transferring of ‘Legislative, Executive and Judicial Powers’ to the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services.
6. In conjunction with Article 417 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, this emergency declaration shall remain enforced in the entire nation for one year effective from today 1 February 2021.
The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services released Notification No (1/2021) on the same day. The five points of that statement are the Road Map of the State Administration Council. The statement includes:
1. The Union Election Commission failed to address a large difference over the voting list used in the multiparty general election held on 8 November 2020. Although the request was made to call for the special session of the Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, it again failed to do so. The President also refused the submission two times to hold the National Defence and Security Council meeting.
2. The Union Election Commission will be re-constituted to continuously take appropriate measures, including checking the voting lists in accord with the law.
3. Prevention of the current outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic will be effectively carried out with added momentum.
4. Efforts will be made to recover the businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.
5. Emphasis will be placed as much as possible on restoring eternal peace all over the country in accord with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
6. When these tasks have been completed in accord with the provisions of the State of Emergency, a free and fair multiparty general election will be held, and then, the assigned duty of the State will be handed over to the winning party meeting norms and standards of democracy.
The Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services also said that the Tatmadaw will carry out all duties of the State handed over by the Acting President on 1 February by abiding by provisions of the Constitution (2008). In discharging the State responsibilities, the Tatmadaw will follow the provisions of the Constitution (2008) and existing laws that are not beyond the Constitution.
On 2 February, the State Administration Council including military personnel and civilians who want to serve for the interest of the country and people was organized. Then, the Union Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other well-experienced persons were selected and assigned duty in governance and management sectors of the government. The Council also organized region/state, district and township administration councils including for self-administered division or zones and appointed departmental heads.
Moreover, the Peace Talks Committee of the Tatmadaw was also formed with seven members to enhance effective measures for a ceasefire and eternal peace.
The State Administration Council laid down nine objectives for the country and ethnic nationals. It includes three objects each for political, economic and social affairs.
(A)Building of a Union based on democracy and federalism in practising genuine disciplined multiparty democracy in a full fairness manner;
(B)Emphasizing of restoration of eternal peace for the entire nation in line with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA);
(C)Continuous practising of the ‘principle’ of peaceful co-existence among countries by holding up the independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy.
(A)Further development of products based on agriculture and livestock breeding through modern techniques and all-round development of other sectors of the economy as well;
(B)Stability of market economy and inviting international investments to develop the economy of entire ethnic people;
(C)Encouragement of local businesses to create employment opportunities to be able to produce many products of the State.
(A)For ensuring of dynamism of Union spirit which is the genuine patriotic spirit;
(B)Following customs and traditions of all ethnic nationalities and preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage and national characters;
(C)Enhancement of health, fitness and education standards of the entire nation.
Performance in political objectives
The State Administration Council Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing made a speech to the public regarding the State on 8 February.
He said, “There will be no change in the foreign policy, government policy and economic policy of the country during the periods we are temporarily taking the State responsibility. We shall carry the same path as before. Foreign policy is also keeping in line with the 2008 Constitution. We shall continue establishing friendly relations amongst world nations.”
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure was imposed in regions and states including Nay Pyi Taw Council Area on 8 February to ensure the stability of the State, the rule of law and peace for people.
Moreover, the State Administration Council Chairman sent a message to mark Union Day fell on 12 February saying to work with the ethnic nationals in unity for the protection of non-disintegration of the Union including efforts to ease the socio-economic status of ethnic nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic and quick socio-economic recovery plans in the post-COVID-19 pandemic.
On 12 February, State Administration Council Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing made a speech to the public. In his speech, he stressed the measures for the government servants to be able to serve their duties peacefully.
On Union Day, the State Administration Council released a total of 23,314 prisoners including 55 foreign prisoners as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is establishing a new democratic State with peace, development and disciplines, to turn the prisoners into certain decent citizens, to please the public and to create the humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Vice-Chairman of the State Administration Council, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win explained the current situation in Myanmar, further plans and foreign policies to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Myanmar, as well as Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin and Union Minister for International Cooperation U Ko Ko Hlaing, clarified those to Ambassadors from foreign embassies, diplomats and heads of UN agencies based in Myanmar through video conferencing on 5 February.
On 18 February, the Vice-Chairman of the State Administration Council also discussed with the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armed Forces of Brunei Darussalam the training-related cooperation between two armies in the post-COVID-19 period.
On 12 February, at a special meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Myanmar’s Permanent Representative U Myint Thu clarified the current situation in Myanmar. At the meeting, Myanmar did not agree with the draft resolution on the current situation in Myanmar presented by Britain and the European Union.
At the first meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee held on 18 February, Chairman of the State Administration Council Senior General Min Aung Hlaing discussed foreign policies, conditions for building good relations with neighbouring countries, plans for Myanmar citizens abroad, ways to boost international relations and cooperation, and international economic cooperation.
On 22 February, Vice-Chairman of the Administration Council Vice-Senior General Soe Win discussed the current situations in Myanmar with Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Vice-Admiral David Johnston AO RAN from Australian Armed Forces over the telephone and explained the questions raised at the online meeting.
At the invitation of the Thai Prime Minister, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin arrived in Thailand on 24 February. He met separately with the Thai Prime Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
During his visit to Thailand, he met also with the Indonesian Foreign Minister to discuss cooperation between Myanmar and ASEAN and exchanged views on the current political situation in Myanmar.
Findings of the Union Election Commission within one month
The Union Election Commission (UEC) issued a statement on 16 February, stating findings from the inspection of the results of the 8 November 2020 multiparty democratic general election in eight townships in the Union Territory of Nay Pyi Taw. The previous voter list released by the previous election commission was 906,226. According to the November 2020 list of the Ministry of Immigration and Population, 703,546 people over the age of 18 are eligible to vote.
Voter lists include people who do not have certificates of the citizen, associate citizen or naturalized citizen were 108,333. Those who were on the voter list three or more times with the same ID card number were 6,900. Statistics show that 76,222 people were on the voter list two times with the same ID card number.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) also released its findings on 23 February regarding the printing of ballot papers used in the general election.
According to the findings, 138,460,270 ballot papers were printed initially, they were printed 9 times more as required. And according to statistics, the Yangon Region Election Commission printed the ballot papers two times more again upon the instruction on 7 November, one day ahead of the general election.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) issued its third statement on 24 February. The Election Commission (UEC) has released the results of the field inspections on the status of ballots used in the Pyithu Hluttaw Election in each of the eight townships in Nay Pyi Taw.
It was also released that there were differences in the voter lists on the ground in Sittway Township in Rakhine State, Hlinethaya (East) Township in Yangon Region and Taunggyi Township in Shan State.
On 27 February, the Union Election Commission (UEC) issued a press release stating the discrepancies between the voter list and the list of people who actually voted in Waingmaw Township in Kachin State and Magway Township in the Magway Region.
Activities for peace, stability and national reform
The State Administration Council amended and enacted the necessary laws to prevent any disturbance to the peace and development of the State, including the law amending the capital punishment; Law amending the Code of Criminal Procedure; Fourth Amendment to the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law and the Amendment to the Protection of Citizens’ Personal Freedom and Security Act.
The Electronic Communications Law was also amended. Since from the second week of February, the government issued notices to civil servants who have failed to perform their duties due to various reasons to return to work as soon as possible.
In the third coordination meeting of the State Administration Council, the Chairman of the State Administration Council said the effective action to be taken against those who tell employees to get started with the CDM movement, and there are groups behind the CDM campaign an those who fund the campaign on behind, adding the council will continue to do what it has to do in accordance with the law, and he gave instructions on further activities.
According to the statement released by the State Administration Council on March 5, it stated that the formation of a committee under the name “Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee” (CRPH) is not only in accordance with the law but also commits serious crimes. It has stated not to take part in it’s any direct or indirect action, and those who do so will be taken effective legal action.
Implementation of Economic Goals
The Chairman of the State Administration Council met with the entrepreneurs from Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and associated organizations, patrons, Chairman and officials of Myanmar Banks Association, and bankers on 3 and 5 February and discussed to continue the operation of business in a disciplined manner, to boost the country’s economic sector and stabilize its financial sector.
The Central Bank of Myanmar has also been able to release press releases in a timely manner to allay public concerns over financial rumors.
It has been found the reopening of airlines to facilitate public travel by adhering to measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, the expansion of train services and the expansion of bus services.
On 13 February, the exemption of the 2% advance income tax on exports was extended until February 28 as the economic downturn continued due to the COVID-19 crisis, which was one of the measures taken for the country’s economy and for the convenience of exporters.
In the third week of February, offshore fishing vessels were allowed to extend their fishing days to provide adequate relief to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement was also implemented on 19 February.
Negotiations are also underway to continue the implementation of the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan.
From the time the State Administrative Council took office, it can be found the transparency in the use of medical funds for the COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment in accordance with financial regulations by releasing statements.
In addition, more than 900,000 pensioners who will receive their pensions were able to withdraw their pensions conveniently on the 21st after the opening day of the bank instead of only on the 21st. Withdrawals were made using the Mobile Money system at nearby mobile agents.
The State Administrative Council Economic Committee Meeting No. (1/2021) was held on 23 February and the chairman of the Economic Committee called for the immediate recovery of the economy, which has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and for the relevant authorities to take immediate action.
Implementation of Social Goals
Tatmadaw members from respective regional commands conducted collective cleaning in the pagodas across the country including Shwedagon Pagoda, Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, Kyeik Htee Yoe Pagoda and ancient pagodas in Bagan and NyaungU in order to open them in accordance with the COVID-19 rules and regulations and people have been able to pay homage to those pagodas since 8 February.
Provision of Healthcare
On 5 February, it was announced that all people will be able to receive free medical treatment at military hospitals as the Tatmadaw is willing to support public health services throughout the country.
As of 28 February, Tatmadaw hospitals have provided healthcare services to 36,133 outpatients, 3550 inpatients. A total of 1,592 patients had major surgery, 780 patients had minor surgery and 2,240 child births were managed by Tatmadaw medical specialists, medics and nurses. In addition, patients were provided foods.
With the instruction of the State Administration Council, Tatmadaw Naval Vessels brought back a total of 1086 Myanmar nationals who were stranded in Malaysia due to various reasons on 23 February and arrived to Myanmar on 27 February.
The returnees have been under quarantine in accordance with the COVID-19 protective rules and regulations at Tatmadaw quarantine centres and will be coordinated for going back home and job opportunity.
While the State Administration Council is implementing the objectives of social affairs, the council also sent messages for 74th Shan State Day on 7 February, 74th Union Day on 12 February and 73rd Chin National Day to show the same mindset together with the ethnic nationals.
Acceleration of COVID-19 activities
The council keeps launching COVID-19 vaccination programmes and the Union level members and staff officers of ministries including acting President received COVIDSHIELD for the first time on 5 February and second time on 5 March. The vaccination programmes were conducted as planned for venerable Sayadaws and the elderly over the age of 65.
It also invited application forms for postgraduate medical courses at University of Medicine and other medical related universities, and for vacant posts of Myanmar Press Council. Moreover, it also makes arrangements for the reopening of schools in accordance with COVID-19 health rules like cleaning programmes at schools’ surrounding, public awareness of health issue and upgrade of teaching materials, and above mentioned are the performance of State Administration Council during its first one-month term.